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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
11:17 AM Fri, Sept. 21st

Editorial: Teen drinking is cause for concern

Too many of our kids are tampering with alcohol and drugs.

Just recently, the Courier ran a story about dozens of teens caught partying in a remote location in what authorities called an "alcohol-fueled prom after-party."

In the wee hours of a Sunday morning, Yavapai County Sheriff's Office deputies answered a 911 call reporting a male lying in the roadway in the area. They found him "in an extremely intoxicated state." As the investigation unfolded, officers discovered the party site and ended up detaining 65 participants, some as young as 15, and wrote 34 citations, mostly for underage drinking.

Reader comments on dCourier.com ranged from "life has risks ... let them live and learn from living" to teen drinking is a "rite of passage" to "the parents are to blame for this" to "we all know someone who paid the ultimate price while chasing after a good time."

Reflecting on his youth, one reader said, "I'm 42 and I did the same thing in high school ... When you are young, you think you are indestructible. But now, I have a 15-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. I don't want them to do the same things I have done because I care for their safety."

To be sure, many of us older folks did tamper with alcohol when we were in high school and college. Remember the boon-dockers in the desert or out in the woods? Yes, we flirted with danger, but now we know that we didn't understand the consequences. We thought we were invincible.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol use by people under 21 is a major public health problem. The most recent figures published on the CDC website indicate that people aged 12 to 20 years old drink 11 percent of all the alcohol consumed in the United States, more than 90 percent of this alcohol is consumed in binge drinking, underage drinkers consume more drinks per drinking occasion than adult drinkers, 190,000 underage drinkers ended up in the emergency room in 2008 for injuries and other alcohol-related conditions, 10 percent drove after drinking and 28 percent rode with someone who had been drinking.

Numbers prove that kids who drink have problems at school, are at higher risk for murder, suicide and dying in car crashes, may abuse other drugs, die from alcohol poisoning, and may experience unwanted, unplanned and unprotected sex. This is a short list of the problems alcohol abuse can cause for kids.

Teen drinking is hardly a "rite of passage."

Adults who safely survived their partying youth believe that now.

"We don't want them to do the same things we did because we care for their safety."